TCA wraps up a year of change

Australian Forests and Timber - - VAFI - By He­len Mur­ray

A MERRY and peace­ful Christ­mas to read­ers from all at Tim­ber Com­mu­ni­ties Aus­tralia.

As thoughts will soon turn to Santa and the chance to put one’s feet up, switch off the phone and re­lax over New Year, we can look back on a year of gen­uine mile­stones achieved for TCA.

At the top of the tree – will be a newly ap­pointed Board, en­dorsed by mem­bers at the Novem­ber AGM, ready to set and pur­sue a new set of pri­or­i­ties in 2015 un­der the new Con­sti­tu­tion.

A new com­mu­ni­ca­tions agenda is a high pri­or­ity for TCA to sup­port grass­roots com­mu­nity mem­bers in their lo­cal ac­tiv­i­ties. The car­bon friendly qual­i­ties of tim­ber are un­ri­valled. Our start­ing point for de­vel­op­ing TCA’s new public mes­sag­ing is that tim­ber must play a piv­otal role in re­duc­ing car­bon emis­sions, not only through the dy­namic nat­u­ral grow­ing cy­cle of trees in sus­tain­ably man­aged forests and plan­ta­tions but also through the harvest and util­i­sa­tion of tim­ber prod­ucts which con­tinue to store car­bon for life. These facts are well ac­cepted within tim­ber re­lated com­mu­ni­ties but are clearly not well un­der­stood in the wider com­mu­nity – es­pe­cially in ur­ban pop­u­la­tions which heav­ily

TCA mem­bers un­der­stand that a vi­brant lo­cal com­mu­nity de­pends upon a dual base of a healthy sur­round­ing land­scape (en­vi­ron­ment) and a healthy lo­cal econ­omy.

In com­mon with some other or­gan­i­sa­tions in the sec­tor, TCA is look­ing at how it can help to ed­u­cate the public with mes­sages that long term pro­tec­tion and en­hance­ment of pre­cious eco­log­i­cal and cul­tural val­ues within forests can co-ex­ist with sen­si­ble util­i­sa­tion of tim­ber prod­ucts.

TCA is an in­ter­face be­tween lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties and in­dus­try. It’s worth get­ting back to ba­sics for a mo­ment to re­mind our­selves why it makes sense for com­mer­cial op­er­a­tors to build re­la­tion­ships and have a good rep­u­ta­tion in the lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties where they op­er­ate. Any smart busi­ness knows that com­mu­ni­ties are as­tute judges of what is gen­uine good cit­i­zen­ship.

At grass­roots level peo­ple are up close and see the truth of how things op­er­ate – they know what is spin and what is real. They know whether there is in­tegrity in how com­pa­nies go about their busi­ness or when lip ser­vice is paid to do­ing the right thing. They know whether man­age­ment is fair and whether bills are paid on time and staff and lo­cal sup­pli­ers are re­spected. They see up close whether en­vi­ron­men­tal and em­ploy­ment prac­tices are best prac­tice.

TCA grass­roots mem­bers have high ex­pec­ta­tions of com­mer­cial op­er­a­tors in the in­dus­try and TCA pro­vides com­pa­nies with an ac­cess point to com­mu­nity lead­ers in dif­fer­ent parts of Aus­tralia. We welcome ap­proaches from com­pa­nies who seek to im­prove their own lo­cal en­gage­ment prac­tices and our mem­bers can re­fer them to suc­cess­ful ex­am­ples.

It is stat­ing the ob­vi­ous that com­mer­cial op­er­a­tors have a re­spon­si­bil­ity to re­spect the lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties in which they op­er­ate. In many cases com­pany and com­mu­nity are deeply linked – with staff and sup­pli­ers and cus­tomers liv­ing in the sur­round­ing lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties. Those link­ages pro­vide an in­cen­tive to do the right thing and fail­ing to do the right thing burns up com­mu­nity good­will that won’t be won back in a hurry, if at all.

The old adage ‘from lit­tle things big things grow’ is a nice note to end the year on. Com­mu­ni­ties all have their own na­ture, they all dif­fer and busi­ness.

Spe­cial thanks are ex­tended to the Spon­sor Mem­bers who con­trib­uted that leap of faith TCA would no longer ex­ist. Now TCA grass­roots mem­bers have a far more in­clu­sive and demo­cratic say in the di­rec­tion of TCA un­der the new Con­sti­tu­tion passed in 2014. That has to be a good Christ­mas present - Merry Christ­mas to all.

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